Most Americans are searching for the American Dream: a nice house, a white picket fence, a big yard with children running around and a spouse to come home to. No one seems to be satisfied with this “dream” anymore because everyone wants to go beyond it. Commercials and advertisements on television compel us to go out and buy things we don’t need so we can achieve happiness and fulfillment. These advertisements are constantly on television brainwashing us into thinking we need the latest and greatest. We are unaware of the impact they have on our lives. Although these images seem very appealing, they are causing many negative problems in American’s everyday lives.
Advertisers have shaped our generations’ way of thinking by evoking emotion in many of the television commercials today. In Cameron Johnson’s “The Mighty Image” he claims that most Americans don’t realize the influence images have on them. “Millions of products suddenly get purchased directly after a slick marketing campaign reveals the tremendous power of a finely wrought image” (177). However, advertisers are successful when it comes to creating an emotional appeal by using valuable symbols that makes a dramatic attraction to the product, such as the American Flag. For example, J. Francis Davis points out that the American flag is an important symbol for Americans because it evokes so many heartfelt emotions. “The flag works as an image because it suggests a long list of stories and myths that are buried inside us. Image makers hope that in the moment it takes to ‘consume’ an ad or commercial frame, their carefully selected graphics-like the image of the flag-will evoke emotions and memories bubbling deep within us” (569). The American flag is a very useful visual effect for advertisements because it represents our countries values. When Americans see the flag they feel a sense of pride in their country and are compelled to buy a product that it is associated with. If an advertisement is trying to get Americans to buy something, all they have to do is wave a flag around and say, “Buy this if you are a true American.” Advertisers are spending millions of dollars researching what will work best to attract us to certain products. Commercials and advertisements have created an addiction within us that we are unaware of. “They all teach us to buy and to feel somehow dissatisfied and inadequate unless we have the newest, the latest, the best” (Thoman 174). Americans are always focused on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. We are unaware of the influence that the image culture has on us.
One example of how images affect our society is by the commercials they make. Images stereotype certain genders and how they are portrayed. For example, Carl’s Jr. commercials focus mainly on men. They are known for their ads with fancy cars or girls in their bikinis. After a man watches these commercials he begins to think that Carl’s Jr. is manly food and will be more likely to go out and buy it. Many of these stereotypical advertisements can be very harmful to the audience watching them. One gender may be attracted to the commercial while the other gender is furious at the message they’re sending out. The Electrolux company does a great job putting their focus on women doing the household chores. In one of their commercials, they illustrate stereotypical gender roles perfectly. It shows Kelly Ripa running around the house getting the chores done while cooking dinner with the “all powerful” Electrolux stove. Why doesn’t this advertisement show any men? They are assuming that women are the only ones that cook for their children and do household chores while men wait for the meal to be ready. In reality, a lot of men are also responsible for doing the chores around the house. Many television ads also compel us to have the latest and popular items in America. In “The Mighty Image” Cameron Johnson talks about the SUV craze in America and how everyone